How to reach the top with SEO – part 4: Effective Link Building

How to reach the top with SEO – part 4: Effective Link Building

So far we have covered the approach to SEO in part 1, Indexing in part 2, and Mobile in part 3. Now I want to turn to link building.

Once disproportionately important in driving your ranking, it now takes a more realistic place behind content. Nevertheless it is still key to your success. But the big difference now is the quality of the links – the relevance to the content on your site.

Google needs to see the users of your links going deep in to your site, not bouncing off and not visiting just one or two pages.

So how to get good links, and on a limited budget?

SEO in most organisations still fails to attract the right level of investment, so here I try to show how you can build good links on limited spend.

  1. Develop a Content Plan – this is by far one of the most important elements to your SEO strategy. If you can appoint a Content Manager, and together plan a year’s worth of content – articles that are interesting to your audience and that relate to the various consumer agenda points throughout the year. Build a plan, allocate resources and schedule the work. Here’s a great plan to follow.
  2. Choose content carefully – you want to build content people will be dying to share. Your targets, the people running sites you want links from, need to have content they think will be snapped by their peers (sites and social pages they are connected with). The content needs to be innovative, unique, and have the wow factor. To help, ask people in your company that fit the profile of your target sites – what would they find interesting and want to share?
  3. Target on a 1:1 basis – don’t write articles for everyone. Instead select the site, research their content and target audience, then build a bespoke article. This may seem labour intensive but it achieves 2 things: the content is exclusive, and it perfectly fits their audience. You’ll be surprised at your hit rate! And when selecting your sites for links include targeting sites which link to your competitors – these sites may be more likely to connect to a related site than a completely new site. Just use a tool like Moz’s site explorer – enter the url to view the list of backlinks
  4. Make it visual – very important. People prefer images to text, and don’t forget to build in the wow factor. Invest in time and resource to have your graphics department develop interesting infographics of your article. These are great for building links across social pages. There’s a useful guide here.
  5. Apply the Skyscraper technique – apply a methodical systematic approach – create new content, improve on it, then reach out to sites for links. And as I say above, when you seek out sites for linking target those that already link to your competitors. You already know they are interested in your subject matter and have linked to it in the past; cutting out a load of research work.


So just some tips and pointers. The content plan and Content Manager part of the above we instigated at The Open University and it was the best thing we ever did. In just 12 months we were ranking 3rd for target terms ‘degree’ and a number of 2 and 3 word variants. Not only that we expanded the content plan to cover channels PR, Web, and Social. From one plan we developed content across four channels, and with each content piece being related to the other we could cross link and in turn create more SEO impact.


Matthew Brown

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